Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" - What caused the global castrophe? I’m trying to figure out the cause of the global catastrophe that occurred as part of the book’s back-story; not from clues in the book but from what I know about Cormac McCarthy. The book’s only sentence about the event reads “A long shear of light followed by a series of low concussions.” Well, that isn’t much to go by, but knowing that CC is a member of the Santa Fe Institute and is a friend of Murray Gell-Mann, I assume he is more than a passing knowledge of physics and science in general. I suspect he read “Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation,” by Lynn Eden. However, nothing in the book indicates radiation but there seems to have been a global fire. So, my hunch he was thinking of an impact event. Anyone have some other ideas? If you haven’t read the book you are missing a great work of American literature.